Moselwein, the Somme, D-Day & Go For Broke

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JMead11, Mar 7, 2014.

  1. JMead11

    JMead11 Crazy Bastard

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    The ‘Dead’ Yank Hero of Orleans Forest (The Stars and Stripes 25 Nov 1959 By Paul Kackley)A World War II fighter pilot, listed as killed in action on Aug. 10, 1944, actually died four days later with the maquis.A row of nine simple wooden crosses, deep in the heart of the Forest of Orleans in France, marks the spot where an American fighter pilot enjoyed his last moment of peace on earth.Just as the crosses were being driven into the ground, a series of shots shattered the dawn quiet of the forest.Minutes later, Capt. Edward K. Simpson was dead. But he died a hero – sacrificing his life that a group of freedom fighters he had known only a few days might live.This was Aug. 14, 1944, the day remembered by the people of this part of France as the "day that the maquis were attacked."Members of the maquis who were in the forest that day remember that Simpson joined them late in the evening of Aug. 10, after his fighter plane was shot down south of the Loire River and several miles from the maquis’ forest hiding place.Just after landing, Simpson was contacted by two of the freedom fighters who were returning from carrying messages to Col. Marc O’Neill, commander of the maquis in four districts of France, who was then near Orleans."Our couriers led him back through the German lines to our hiding place," recalls Madame O’Neill, widow of the former maquis commander. "They thought he was British, since the only other English-speaking persons they had met during the war were a few British agents who worked with us."At the time Simpson joined the marquis, the Allied forces had pushed to within a few miles of Orleans, and the German troops in the area were showing signs of a retreat to the north. The Free French fighters who had been operating from the Orleans forest for several months were awaiting orders to break out of the woods and join other maquis units in the push to Paris.Rather than run the risk of trying to slip Simpson back to American forces, the marquis leaders suggested to him that he remain with them until time for the whole unit to break through the German Panzer division surrounding the forest.The funeral service Simpson was attending when the attack began was for nine members of the maquis who had been killed in a fire-fight on the outskirts of the forest. (The bodies of the nine were moved after the war, but the crosses marking the graves are still there.)Although several of the freedom fighters fell when the patrol opened fire, the well-armed group quickly overpowered the Germans and drove them off. But knowing that their hiding place had been discovered, the Free French – numbering between 200 and 300 – decided the time had come to escape from the woods and join the Allied forces near Orleans.Hurriedly breaking camp they had occupied for several months – signs of which can still be seen - the hunted men rushed through the woods to their well hidden motor pool nearly a mile away. Most of their vehicles were captured from the Germans.Simpson found a place on the last truck of the convoy as it broke from cover and raced down one of the forest’s narrow trails leading to the Orleans highway.As the maquis vehicles turned on to the highway, they were spotted by a German column of trucks and armored cars. The Germans pursued the maquis convoy and were rapidly closing in, when, Simpson made a decision – and died.Knowing that the German column had to be stopped, one of the Frenchmen riding in the truck with Simpson called for the driver to slow down, and reached for a heavy machine gun.As the truck slowed, Simpson and five of the Frenchmen dropped from it and set up the machine gun in the center of the road as the truck roared away. All six of the men surely realized that they could not escape death, since the point where they established their roadblock was flat and completely without protective cover.The final action those men fought was brief, but successful. Their first burst of machine-gun fire stopped the lead German vehicle and blocked the road. They kept firing until all six were dead.But the time they gained was enough, for by the time the road was cleared, the maquis convoy was well on the way to Orleans and out of reach of the Germans."I was with my husband when the convoy reached us," Madame O’Neill recalls. "When he asked for a report of the action all we heard of for nearly 15 minutes was as account of the bravery of six men – especially the English-speaking one."She continued, "Our soldiers were so impressed with the fact that Simpson gave his life for them even though he didn’t have to, and didn’t even know those he died with."Simpson’s actions impressed the people of Ouzouer-sur-Loire – a village just a few yards from where he died – so much that they collected enough money to build a small monument at the scene of the road block. Many of the villagers were members of the marquis during the war.The monument lists the names of the six men killed there.Simpson’s name also appears on a large monument dedicated to all of the maquis. This second memorial located on a circle in the center of the forest, is inscribed with the names of those who lost their lives during the bitter fighting in the wood in August 1944.Near the monument to the maquis O’Neill’s tomb. He was killed in Algeria in 1956. The French government granted his wish to be buried in Orleans forest in gratitude for his leadership of the maquis.Ironically, while the French people haven’t forgotten the actions of the brave young American pilot, it is possible that no one – including – his own family – from his own country even knew how he died."I told the first Americans I met about Simpson," Madame O’Neill recalls. "But they were combat troops busy fighting, and I’ve wondered ever since if the manner of his death was ever entered in his official record."Marc Grippon, who operates a cafe in Ouzouer-sur-Loire, and who buried Simpson’s body in the local cemetery, also tried to tell Americans how Simpson died."When the graves registration soldiers came here to move his body, I tried to tell them about Simpson," Grippon said. "But I don’t speak English and they didn’t speak French, so I’m sure they didn’t understand me.Evidently his words were not understood, for Simpson’s official record of service, on file at the U.S. Army Reports Center in St. Louis, states he was killed in action in France on Aug. 10, 1944 – four days before he actually

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  2. JMead11

    JMead11 Crazy Bastard

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    Kelly joined the Army from Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania in June 1942,[1] and by June 25, 1944 was serving as a Corporal in Company E, 314th Infantry Regiment, 79th Infantry Division. On that day, at Fort du Roule, Cherbourg, France, Kelly repeatedly exposed himself to hostile fire in order to destroy an enemy emplacement and capture its occupants. He was killed in action five months later, after having been promoted to technical sergeant. For his actions at Fort du Roule, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on January 24, 1945.

    Kelly died November 23, 1944 and was buried at the Epinal American Cemetery and Memorial in Épinal, France.

    For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. On 25 June 1944, in the vicinity of Fort du Roule, Cherbourg, France, when Cpl. Kelly's unit was pinned down by heavy enemy machinegun fire emanating from a deeply entrenched strongpoint on the slope leading up to the fort, Cpl. Kelly volunteered to attempt to neutralize the strongpoint. Arming himself with a pole charge about 10 feet long and with 15 pounds of explosive affixed, he climbed the slope under a withering blast of machinegun fire and placed the charge at the strongpoint's base. The subsequent blast was ineffective, and again, alone and unhesitatingly, he braved the slope to repeat the operation. This second blast blew off the ends of the enemy guns. Cpl. Kelly then climbed the slope a third time to place a pole charge at the strongpoint's rear entrance. When this had been blown open he hurled hand grenades inside the position, forcing survivors of the enemy guncrews to come out and surrender. The gallantry, tenacity of purpose, and utter disregard for personal safety displayed by Cpl. Kelly were an incentive to his comrades and worthy of emulation by all.


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  3. JMead11

    JMead11 Crazy Bastard

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    Weicht joined the Army from Bedford, Pennsylvania in February 1942,[1] and by December 3, 1944 was serving as a Sergeant in Company F, 142nd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division. On that day, during fighting in Saint-Hippolyte, France, he single-handedly attacked two hostile gun emplacements before being killed while attacking an enemy road block. For his actions during the battle, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor seven months later, on July 19, 1945.

    Weicht was buried at the Epinal American Cemetery and Memorial in Épinal, France


    For commanding an assault squad in Company F's attack against the strategically important Alsatian town of St. Hippolyte on December 3, 1944. He aggressively led his men down a winding street, clearing the houses of opposition as he advanced. Upon rounding a bend, the group was suddenly brought under the fire of 2 machineguns emplaced in the door and window of a house 100 yards distant. While his squad members took cover, Sgt. Weicht moved rapidly forward to a high rock wall and, fearlessly exposing himself to the enemy action, fired 2 clips of ammunition from his rifle. His fire proving ineffective, he entered a house opposite the enemy gun position, and, firing from a window, killed the 2 hostile gunners. Continuing the attack, the advance was again halted when two 20-mm. guns opened fire on the company. An artillery observer ordered friendly troops to evacuate the area and then directed artillery fire upon the gun positions. Sgt. Weicht remained in the shelled area and continued to fire on the hostile weapons. When the barrage lifted and the enemy soldiers attempted to remove their gun, he killed 2 crewmembers and forced the others to flee. Sgt. Weicht continued to lead his squad forward until he spotted a road block approximate 125 yards away. Moving to the second floor of a nearby house and firing from a window, he killed 3 and wounded several of the enemy. Instantly becoming a target for heavy and direct fire, he disregarded personal safety to continue his fire, with unusual effectiveness, until he was killed by a direct hit from an antitank gun.



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  4. JMead11

    JMead11 Crazy Bastard

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    For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. On 9 October 1944, at about noon, near La Forge, France, 1st Lt. Kandle, while leading a reconnaissance patrol into enemy territory, engaged in a duel at pointblank range with a German field officer and killed him. Having already taken 5 enemy prisoners that morning, he led a skeleton platoon of 16 men, reinforced with a light machinegun squad, through fog and over precipitous mountain terrain to fall on the rear of a German quarry stronghold which had checked the advance of an infantry battalion for 2 days. Rushing forward, several yards ahead of his assault elements, 1st Lt. Kandle fought his way into the heart of the enemy strongpoint, and, by his boldness and audacity, forced the Germans to surrender. Harassed by machinegun fire from a position which he had bypassed in the dense fog, he moved to within 15 yards of the enemy, killed a German machinegunner with accurate rifle fire and led his men in the destruction of another machinegun crew and its rifle security elements. Finally, he led his small force against a fortified house held by 2 German officers and 30 enlisted men. After establishing a base of fire, he rushed forward alone through an open clearing in full view of the enemy, smashed through a barricaded door, and forced all 32 Germans to surrender. His intrepidity and bold leadership resulted in the capture or killing of 3 enemy officers and 54 enlisted men, the destruction of 3 enemy strongpoints, and the seizure of enemy positions which had halted a battalion attack.


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  5. JMead11

    JMead11 Crazy Bastard

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  6. JMead11

    JMead11 Crazy Bastard

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    Then it was a highway run, all the way from Epinal to Luxembourg City, then through Trier, exiting at the Ausfahrt for Spangdahlem AFB and over to the Mosel where it was time for beverages at my friends house. It was dark by the time I arrived, and it had been a long day. I had been wanting to go to Epinal for some time though, and I felt a sense of accomplishment at having finally gotten there after all the years I had said I needed to do it. I hope I get to pass this way again before my life is done.

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  7. gperkins

    gperkins graeme

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    Thanks for a wonderfull report, both my grandfathers were heavily involved in the madness of the 20th century. My "Pop", spent 3 years on the Somme (WW1 of course) and somehow survived and my "Grandad" was stationed at first in Nth Africa, then pulled back to New Guinea. As many Australians were, in WW2. Somehow they both survived. and lived to be old men. Of course both have now passed away. I was particularly appreciative of your thorough report of Villers Bretonneux and surrounds. I've passed through here, but need to go back and spend much more time.

    Graeme
  8. Fredicchino

    Fredicchino Been here awhile

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    How could I miss this one ?
    Incredible report, thank you very much for taking the time to compile all this.

    Living in Amiens, Somme, and working very close to Barisis, Aisne, it's kind of amazing to see it here on ADV. Wonderful report you did here.
    Went several times to most of the places you showed here. I, for one, cannot go to places like the American cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer without having to fight back tears.

    And, as another French rider wrote here, I can assure you that we will never forget the sacrifices of all the soldiers who came twice from all corners of the world to free us from the tiranny. May they rest in peace knowing that it was all worth it and that they brought peace to all countries involved.
  9. JMead11

    JMead11 Crazy Bastard

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    I just wish more Americans knew how the French feel about the sacrifices America made. As an American I am thankful for the French helping us to have an America. Without the French we would never have defeated the British and independence would have been much further away.

    I am continually amazed at the movement to commemorate the bravery of American soldiers in France by French associations. If only here in America more people cared to do more of the same.
  10. JMead11

    JMead11 Crazy Bastard

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    The next morning I awoke in Kinheim to slightly overcast skies....some wonderful coffee and a lovely slice of prune cake. Could there really be a better greeting than all of that?

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  11. JMead11

    JMead11 Crazy Bastard

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    After all that time on the road a more relaxing day was certainly in order for this day, and only a short distance down the road in Bernkastel-Kues. Very popular with the tourists for it's incredible atmosphere....it is all very familiar to me after all these years, but it continues to amaze me with it's beauty.

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  12. JMead11

    JMead11 Crazy Bastard

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  13. JMead11

    JMead11 Crazy Bastard

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    Dinner with my friends consisted of the usual goodies at a local Kebab place in Bernkastel that was wonderful....best kind of cheap, fast food in the whole country.

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    then Ice Cream....

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  14. JMead11

    JMead11 Crazy Bastard

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    I had a couple more full days to enjoy before i had to go to the airport now. I spent it with my friends doing a little hike near some volcanoes that had turned into lakes....and the flowers were blooming, the colors were amazing....and it was the last hoorah for this year.....the last day before heading back into the desert of Arizona and the furnace hot heat of Tucson.

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  15. JMead11

    JMead11 Crazy Bastard

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  16. JMead11

    JMead11 Crazy Bastard

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  17. JMead11

    JMead11 Crazy Bastard

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  18. JMead11

    JMead11 Crazy Bastard

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  19. JMead11

    JMead11 Crazy Bastard

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  20. JMead11

    JMead11 Crazy Bastard

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